Pterodactyl sightings in England

Pteranodons over Yorkshire? Bat-winged monsters in Lancashire? RICHARD FREEMAN revisits a flap of pterodactyl sightings in England.

On September 15, 1982, a man walking his dog in Pudsey, West Yorkshire, heard a loud scream, followed by a low groan. Fearing a mugging was taking place, he went to investigate. He realised the cries were coming from above him, and he looked up to see a bat-winged, bird-like creature perched upon a neighbour’s roof, towering over the chimney pots.

He said: ‘It was making a screaming call with its beak open, the grunt with its beak closed. It launched itself from the roof, its weight causing it to drop below roof level, before its slow wing beat carried it off into the darkness.’

The witness estimated the monster’s wingspan to be eight feet.  It was seen again in Yeadon, flying towards the airport. Then the sightings trailed off until June 7 the following year. A woman living in Thackley, Bradford, saw it flying with laborious strokes down her street towards a wooded, disused railway. The massive size astonished her.

Mike Priestly, features editor on the Telegraph & Argus and twice voted ‘Yorkshire Reporter of The Year’ decided to track the mystery down and photograph it. His patience was rewarded when he snapped a large flying creature in the skies above Bradford. His 300mm telephoto lens was unable to get a clear picture because of the extreme distance of the subject. Reports of the beast continued from Basildon, Shipley, Crossflats, Pudsey, Yeadon and Thackley. The last recorded sighting occurred in November 1985. Journalist Malcolm Hodds described a black beast with a 1.5 metre wingspan and finger-like feathers.

The Yorkshire pterodactyl flap was over, but on the other side of the Pennines a remarkably similar monster reared its head in 1999. Ian Wharton told me of the strange encounters of two of his colleagues in the Parks Department working at Hesketh Park, Southport. One man, Clive Everson, approached Wharton one morning, having claimed to have just seen what looked like a pterodactyl. A grey-skinned, bat-winged creature, with a long beak and massive wingspan, had risen up out of the bushes in front of Everson, and flew away, leaving him dazed and alarmed. A second man, Percy Whaterton, had seen two beasts answering the same description in the woods that backed onto his house. Whaterton thought they could be nesting in the forest. To date nothing further has been heard from this area.

A creature answering the same description has also been seen perched on a roof in Liverpool, by the ex-wife of my friend Larry Warren. In the late 1990s I received several anonymous phone calls from a man claiming that a dragon-like creature had returned to the skies above Ilkley in Yorkshire. He said a black-skinned, leathery-winged creature the size of a helicopter had been seen on several occasions. I could not verify the story so make of it what you will.

Words c. Richard Freeman 2011  Picture by Harry Rountree, one of his many superb illustrations from the 1912 serialisation of Arthur Conan Diyle’s ‘The Lost World’.

11 Responses to Pterodactyl sightings in England

  1. Mel says:

    There is a similar creature in the usa called the jersey devil located in the pine barrens of New Jersey horse like head and bat wings

  2. Andy Owens says:

    I have seen a few herons around Halifax where I live, and they can be quite startling. It would be interesting to know if the sightings were in daytime, nighttime and the lighting conditions.
    Does anyone know if the Features Editor’s photograph was published online anywhere?
    Thanks very much,

  3. Dave says:

    Ive seen herons fly at night on several occasions on the canal near to where I live, they can be very startling indeed, and of course they have the slow wingbeat as described above.

  4. livi says:

    that’s super cool i just drew a picture of the picture above its awesome. i have seen one i see it every day its basically a friend of mine because I’m the only one who notices him hes not TOO big but hes pretty big he sits upon a tree near my house just looking at something. hes taught me how to draw pterodactyls and make their noise cause every once and a while he makes his call. The sad thing is no one believes me.

  5. Em says:

    My partner stopped the car near Rutland, UK, claiming he had seen some huge birds resembling Pterodactyls . I didn’t see anything and laughed at him until we spoke to some locals who said other people had had similar sightings and that they were likely to be Red Kite birds whose wingspan can reach over 8 feet.

  6. chris says:

    i live in leeds and there was one in hunslet mid 90s i saw it and my father too roof level also was screaming on a house opp my grans i went into the garden and started tryin to get a reaction from it by making noises ……….i did!! it swooped over i called my dad ran towards the door i jumped to the ground thinking i was gonna get gripped NO SHIT my dad outside by now looking up as i did to see it flying over are heads and over the house….i was so frightened by it looking back and still see myself jumping to the ground with my hands clasped behind my head waiting to get lifted to the sky

  7. Mike_Bradford says:

    I was with a mate once about 4 years ago walking across crossflatts bridge just near bingley, and we saw something huge fly out of nowhere above us (at night) it had an enormous wingspan and was a light shade of brown. It just flew upwards diagonally and out of sight.. Not a clue what it was, far too big to be a bird, I would probably say too large to be a bat also..

  8. David Pickford says:

    In 2003 myself and my wife was traveling along the M60 ring road Between failsworth and junction 18 where it joins the older part of the M60 near Middleton and heaton park
    we were having a few words as we had just come fro my parents and some things had been said.
    As i turned to my wife to say a few choice words (lol) i turned back looking at the road only to see what looked like a large creature resembling a Pterodactyl. it was dark in colour with a large beak small ish head, i swerved and stopped as it was late at night we both looked behind only to see it taking off with a very big wingspan it stood higher than that of a heron and had a larger wingspan, lets just say it stopped us arguing we were flabbergasted and to this day i still do not know what we saw that night but i would love to find out.

    has anyone else seen this?

  9. Hello, I was having a discussion about this with my new friend, Bill just last week. In the early 1980′s when I was a little girl, I lived in Northeast Ohio and saw a creature fitting these descriptions. I don’t know what I saw but I know what I didn’t see. It was not a bat nor a bird. This creature had an 8 foot (at least) wingspan and I could see the veins in it’s wings. It just hovered, steadily in the ditch beside my house. It resembled a pterodactyl, that’s the only way I could describe it. It did not make any sound, just hovered in the air slightly above my head. I have been puzzled by this ever since.

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